Over the last few days, after a few long interactions, I have realised that more people I know are battling loneliness and depression than I thought. The reasons are many and varied. For some, it is academic stress, for others it is chronic work stress. For some, it is battling with huge EMI commitments, for some it is teenage kids being difficult. Relationships not working out, interference of in-laws, health scares..the works.
But one thing I notice is common in most cases, is the lack of a good support system. Most people live in urban centres, in nuclear families, often commuting long hours for work in high stress jobs. There is no time on weekdays to exercise, de-stress or even to talk to family members over a cup of tea. Weekends are spent either doing chores, lazing around or in visiting the nearest mall to do some mindless shopping in most cases.
Many of these people are seeking professional help. Depression is a real thing and it is good that the problem is being recognised. But one thing that struck me was that these days, many people don’t have siblings or cousins they are close to, either the bonds have withered away by distance, or they never existed. Old friendships are reduced to sending birthday wishes on WA or exchanging memes. Work interactions are superficial. Social media chatter has taken the place of family togetherness. Everyone is under pressure to present an exaggerated image of personal success and happiness, and that increases the magnitude of the problem.
Professional help in necessary to battle clinical depression. And there is no shame in seeking it, but you need a loving and supportive network of real people, either family or friends, to supplement the therapy. Please invest in people and relationships. Real people.
Call up old friends, cousins, siblings regularly. Have proper conversations. Meet relatives and friends on weekends. Get some sunlight. And don’t wait for the burden to get too heavy before seeking help. In a race to maintain virtual contacts, do not neglect real connections.